Here are Robert and I, clutching our certificates and t-shirts after Sunday’s event.
We’ve been doing this annual bike ride, on and off, since 2000. It’s an excellent route, taking in the sights of Calderdale, with some brilliant off-road sections.
I’ve previously reported on the 2007 ride here, and on the 2008 ride here.
This year the forecast was good, and the quality of support (very good) a known quantity, so we set off at 9am with minimal kit – just a spare inner tube, tool kit and ‘phone in a waterproof bag. The cloud we had passed through at the top of the M62 appeared to have cleared.
So it was a bit of a surprise when, after a few minutes on the bikes, it started to rain. The morning proved to be showery but warm. We got muddy (hence the change of clothes for the photo).
We had started near the back of what appeared to be a large field of keen mountain bikers (at over 450, the largest field ever, by a considerable margin), so progress was relatively slow on the crowded lanes, and then on the bridleways where overtaking is difficult. Plenty of time to take in the lovely countryside, then. When it wasn’t raining.
There’s nothing technical for the first few miles, until after passing the site of a mock Manchester Airport built to fool the Germans in WW2.
The descent to Mytholmroyd is fun, but it’s a great shame that so many participants choose to walk down the narrow, rocky lane. A minimal amount of bravery does permit overtaking, though, all at a very modest pace.
Robert was well ahead of me by now – his uphill speed is much quicker than my ‘walking pace’ – and I didn’t see him until the end of the ride.
The first support point comes after about 10 miles and is always a welcome sight. My antique bike was admired by one of the helpers…
“A proper bike, wow!”
Well, I’m not sure about that, but the old steed did get me past numerous broken down hi-tech bits of machinery and round the course without incident, though in the damp conditions I was pretty careful; I’ve recently heard of a few cyclists who have incurred serious injuries in falls.
Luckily, today all those who were falling off around me, particularly on the tricky descent from Midgley Moor, were greeted by soft landings and, after the obligatory “are you ok”, hearty laughter all round.
There’s a short hill soon after this strenuous descent which I find brings on cramp – it must be the sudden change from using one set of muscles to using completely different muscles for the ascent? I was lucky on this occasion, just staving off the onset of cramp. “You’ll be ok in five minutes”, I offered comfort to two chaps who were writhing on the ground at the top of the hill next to their bikes.
It’s easy going from here until the final 150 metre (it seems more) final sharp ascent to Sowerby and welcome refreshments at St Peter’s Community Centre. By the latter stages most people simply maintain their position, some of the walkers even overtaking those of us who cycle up the steep final hill.
Earlier, when I arrived at the finish, bikes were strewn everywhere, but now, some 4 hours after the start, after Robert and I had got changed and enjoyed some soup and tea, most people had gone home, but the stragglers would be dribbling in for some time to come.
Only geeks – those who enjoy route descriptions and statistics – need read on!
Here’s the route – 42 km (26 miles), with 1320 metres of ascent, of which all but a few metres can be managed without dismounting. On a normal day out I would expect it to take around 4 to 5 hours.
You’ll need Outdoor Leisure map number 21 – South Pennines – to guide yourself around the route, which on ‘CMBM day’ is well signed and marshalled (no map required), but at other times would need care to make all the correct turns. A GPS may also come in handy as there are numerous paths and side-tracks that may serve to confuse!
1 The official CMBM starts from SE 040 225, down Bowood Lane to the south of Sowerby. Any other ride could start from Sowerby, where St Peter’s church is a convenient landmark. From the official start go up a short rise then down to the village of Mill Bank, where a left turn then a sharp right lead you down to the river and steeply up the other side to Soyland Town. Here take a couple of right turns before going left down Hob Lane until reaching a track on the right, Cote Road.
2 Follow Cote Road past SE 029 200 (point 2), slowly climbing to Flight House Road then the tarmac lane that is Coal Gate Road. After passing Greave Head, turn left towards Flints Moor, and when a small brick shed is reached turn right along Water Stalls Road.
3 Passing point 3 at SE 013 223, at the end of Water Stalls Road is a short section of tarmac.
4 Point 4, SE 020 235, is passed on this short section before a left turn leads down towards Nab End Quarry. A sharp right turn along Moor Bottom Lane is followed by a very sharp left turn onto New Lane, which becomes Stake Lane before dropping steeply down a rocky bridleway to the village of Mytholmroyd. This bit is a little technical in places, but should be rideable with care. At the bottom take a couple of left turns then go right by the pottery, under the railway and alongside the River Calder on your right. Past the clog factory on the other side of the river, turn off-road up to the left to re-cross the railway.
5 Point 5, SE 001 264, is the site of a CMBM support point on the railway bridge. Continue left up the lane and turn right at Wood Top to drop back down to the valley. Go under the railway and past Hebden Bridge station, then left onto the tarmac of the A646. Take the main road to the right (A6033) for a kilometre before turning left down the road to Hardcastle Crags.
6 The car parks at New Bridge are point 6 on the above route outline (SD 989 291). Go right, and up past the top car park then laboriously up the steep lane.
7 At point 7 (SD 987 298), another support point, take a left turn and traverse the hill around Shackleton, then on along easy tarmac to Walshaw Hamlet.
8 At Walshaw Hamlet (SD 974 313) turn sharp right to labour across a shallow valley before ascending beside a stone wall up a slope that can be slippery when wet. Towards the top of the slope the bridleway crosses to the other side of the wall and winds around Shackleton Knoll before turning right down an entertaining lane to Nook, where a left turn leads down a rocky bridleway (quicker for those with suspension), eventually emerging back onto tarmac at Grain Water Bridge (SD 995 324 – point 9), where drinks and snacks await you on the CMBM.
9 Turn right here to head south along an easy lane to rejoin the A6033 for a speedy descent (you may be able to get up to 40 mph!) to Pecket Well. Slow down for the right hand curve here, then brake before turning very sharply left at SD 997 295 to climb steeply up towards Delf End. The start of this climb is the steepest of the day, and you are allowed to dismount (briefly) before the slope eases! Keep on going upwards for 0.7 km until you reach a clear T-junction near Delf End (SE 004 298 – point 10 – more support).
10 For off-road enthusiasts the next section is superb, as the route turns right towards Moor Side, then left, first hugging the edge of the moor then ascending over the moor past Dimmin Dale, over challenging terrain which is rideable in all but the wettest conditions. The descent of Midgley Moor to Catherine House (SE 024 288) should be approached with care, as there are steep drops to the left, but it’s rideable if you adjust your centre of gravity correctly. A left and then a right at Catherine House sees the technical difficulties over, and a nice fast track leads down to a clough, from where a short ascent up ‘Cramp Hill’ (try it and you’ll understand) leads to a cruise down Jerusalem Lane past Jerusalem Farm (SE 037 278 – point 11).
11 Beyond Jerusalem the route takes a sharp left turn in Booth, then very soon it turns right and heads down beside the river past a series of water channels built to power the local mills. Emerging at Luddenden, you are allowed to take a break at the Lord Nelson, if they’ll let you and your mud through their door! From here, follow the road between the Weavers and the Coach and Horses and head down to turn left and immediately right at the main A646 road in Luddenden Foot.
12 Cross the canal and the river then turn left (SE 036 250 – point 12) along a lane where another left turn takes you under the railway and steeply up Styes Lane, to join Pinfold Lane, with St Peter’s now in view. A right turn at the top completes the 26 mile circuit at point 13 – Sowerby – SE 042 232.
Well done! Let me know if you actually try this route. I hope you appreciate it as much as the people listed in the statistics below have done over the years.
We first took part in this event in 2000, and I think it may only have started in 1999. Here’s how we got on:
Winner – 2 hrs 19 min – 226 finishers – slowest 6 hrs 16 min
Craig: 4 hrs 31 min - 185
Martin: 4 hrs 42 min – 195
Don: 4 hrs 45 min – 201
Sue: 4 hrs 46 min – 202
Winner – 2 hrs 19 min – 276 finishers – slowest 5 hrs 12 min
Craig: 4 hrs 32 min – 248
Liz: 5 hrs 12 min – 275
Don: 5 hrs 12 min – 276
Note: Liz did have a bad crash, and they were delayed as a result of Don’s brother, Nigel’s bike being destroyed by a horse – hence he recorded a DNF and was never seen again!
Winner – 2 hrs 7 min – 269 finishers – slowest 5 hrs 24 min
Robert: 3 hrs 41 min – 192
Martin: 3 hrs 46 min – 204
Alastair: 3 hrs 46 min - 205
Winner – 2 hrs 7 min – 259 finishers – slowest 5 hrs 13 min
Robert: 3 hrs 19 min – 151
David: 3 hrs 31 min – 176 (Robert’s brother)
Alastair: 4 hrs 17 min - 235
Sue: 4 hrs 26 min – 240
Martin: 4 hrs 26 min – 241
Craig: 4 hrs 29 min - 244
Winner – 2 hrs 13 min – 229 finishers – slowest 5 hrs 8 min
Robert: 4 hrs 32 min – 213=
David W: 4 hrs 32 min 213=
Winner – 2 hrs 5 min – 174 finishers – slowest 5 hrs 16 min
Martin: 3 hrs 26 min – 95
Robert: 3 hrs 41 min - 116
Winner – 2 hrs 2 min – 203 finishers – slowest 5 hrs 47 min
Robert: 3 hrs 19 min – 107
Martin: 3 hrs 22 min – 111 (Starting 2 hours after landing from SF)
Winner – 2 hrs 6 min – 253 finishers – slowest 6 hrs 30 min
Robert: 3 hrs 7 min – 116
Martin: 3 hrs 15 min - 133
Winner – 2 hrs 11 min – 348 finishers – slowest 6 hrs 40 min
Robert: 3 hrs 1 min – 109 (impressive new bike!)
Martin: 3 hrs 32 min - 187
Winner – 1 hr 54 min (WOW!) – 426 finishers – slowest 5 hrs 28 min
Robert: 3 hrs 10 min – 192
Martin: 3 hrs 29 min – 263
We were both slowed by huge crowds of riders; Martin came 3rd out of only 13 ‘over 60’s’ taking part – it must (sadly, and completely without reason) be a sport for the young!
Winner – 1 hr 58 min – 325 finishers – slowest 6 hrs 3 min
Martin: 3 hrs 18 min – 173
Alastair: 3 hrs 29 min – 201
Winner – 2 hrs 3 min – 317 finishers – slowest 6 hrs 3 min
Robert: 3 hrs 4 min – 88
Martin: 3 hrs 30 min – 146
Winner – 2 hrs 6 min – 332 finishers – slowest 5 hrs 35 min
Robert: 3 hrs 1 min – 88
Martin: 3 hrs 37 min – 183 (still riding the old Shogun Trailbreaker bike that some regard as a ‘classic’)
We were both slowed by deep slurry on the moorland sections; Martin came 2nd out of only 8 ‘over 60’s’ completing the course – it must still be a sport for the young!